Flossie McNeill sits in the small library at Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission, a large downtown homeless shelter, fighting back tears. She's recalling an episode last winter from Unshackled!--the nation's longest-running radio drama and a ministry of the mission. The episode focused on Daniel Radtke, a young boy who shared his faith with others during a battle with heart disease that took his life at age 14. Hundreds of people responded to Danny's story, McNeill says."We received a letter from a man on death row. He couldn't remember the last time he cried," she says. "But the night he listened to the show, he bowed to his knees, weeping, and surrendered his life to the Lord."This month Unshackled! (www.unshackled.org) celebrates 50 years of presenting stories of people who have given their lives to Christ. McNeill joined the staff five years ago. She is responsible for sifting through about 1,000 testimonials to choose the 52 stories that are transformed into radio dramas each year. Produced in English, Spanish, Romanian, Russian, and Arabic, the show is broadcast on 1,200 outlets in 147 countries and financed by Pacific Garden's annual $6 million budget. "We'll never know until we get to heaven what kind of impact Unshackled! has had," says Program Manager Dudley Donaldson. "We're not really into numbers."
Shaping the storyPerforming each Saturday afternoon, professional actors read scripts in front of a live studio audience, bringing the stories of Unshackled! to life. They tell of alcoholics who find sobriety and peace, murderers who discover forgiveness, and child abusers who experience healing. McNeill puts tremendous effort into the stories she evaluates. "One of the first things I look at: Is their salvation according ...1